Sunday, April 02, 2006

What do I know?

That's a rhetorical question, of course.

I had a thought this past week that I wanted to share with you all. To me it's quite a powerful thing to keep in mind when I'm communicating with others. It's simply this

It is better to have an informed opinion than to have the answer.

An informed opinion allows you to improve upon it. As an opinion becomes more informed, the sharper its focus becomes. Having the answer can leave you blind sided by something you didn't see. This has happened to me time and again. I'm just now seeing it from this perspective.

I'm finding that if I want to make my conversations with others productive, it's better to have beliefs, founded in good evidence and experience, than it is to have cast an answer in concrete. Such answers can bring you to your knees when you find out that the evidence out there doesn't support your beliefs. However, if you take the position that you're only doing your best to inform your beliefs, so that you can make the right decisions, life is better. People will actually want to talk to you because you are open to communicating ideas back and forth.

It may be simple, but it's helpful to me to know this:

I only know what I believe, and I only believe what I have good reason to believe. And from my experience, I've good reason to believe that I can be certain about nothing. Take that paradox and munch on it for a while.

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